A native of Montreal, Canada, Courtney loves the theatre, in general, and Broadway, in particular. She saw her first show when she was thirteen years old: a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera that opened her eyes to the world of musical theatre. As a teenager, Courtney took some drama and improv classes and performed in high school productions. She now lives in the Ottawa, Canada, area and enjoys going to New York and Toronto to see shows whenever she can.
I was invited to attend Orpheus Musical Theatre's opening night performance of Falsettos at the Gladstone Theatre.
Falsettos was originally performed on Broadway in 1992, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won two. It was then revived to high acclaim in 2016, where it was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical.
The story is set in 1979, at a time when a family unit was deemed to consist of a man, a woman and one or more children. A wife was expected to keep the house clean, prepare meals and offer up sex whenever her husband wanted it. Anything outside of this traditional family unit would have been considered abnormal.BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY at the National Arts Centre - Southam Hall August 23, 2019
Come From Away, the most anticipated show of Broadway Across Canada's 2018-2019 season, is based on the real life events that occurred when the United States closed its airspace in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Planes were instructed to land in Gander, Newfoundland, a tiny town with an airport that had previously served as a refueling station before jet engines allowed for Transatlantic flights. In all, 38 planes carrying about 7,000 passengers and crew descended on Gander, instantly almost doubling its population.
The story is told from both sides, highlighting the kindness of the Islanders, who welcome strangers into their homes, as well as the fear and anxiety of the so-called Plane People as they gradually learn, and then struggle to understand, what has happened.BWW Review: Ottawa's Orpheus Theatre Delivers Hits, Comedy and, Oh, So Much Camp with PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT THE MUSICAL June 1, 2019
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert the Musical was adapted from the 1994 Academy-award winning Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The 2006 musical version also originated Down Under and was slightly changed for American audiences when it first hit the Great White Way in 2011. Orpheus' production is a hybrid of the two, comprising a diverse mix of 70s and 80s hits that will be instantly recognizable to most audience members.
The story involves two drag queens, Tick/Mitzi (Andy Allen-McCarthy) and Adam/Felicia (DJ Eyamie), and a transgender woman, Bernadette (Shaun Toohey), on an adventurous road trip across the Australian outback in a camper-van, in order to perform at a casino resort run by Tick's wife, Marion (Andréa Black). Along the way, they meet a cast of characters, some friendly and some not so much, and the trio manage to get themselves into and out of scrapes through song and dance.
Co-directors Toohey and Eyamie, who also star in the production, do not shy away from showing the discrimination and hatred that Tick, Adam, and Bernadette encounter on the road. Some scenes are almost difficult to watch, especially with the knowledge that these type of hate crimes are still perpetuated today. Ultimately, love and the power of friendship conquer all, and the overall message is a positive one.BWW Review: THE KING AND I at Ottawa's National Arts Centre March 14, 2019
Broadway Across Canada's performance of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved classic, The King and I, is everything you expect it to be: luxurious, with sparkling costumes and convincing set design, as well as talented vocals and choreography.
The story is set in the mid-1800s, with the arrival of a British widow, Anna Leonowens, and her son, Louis, in Bangkok. The former has come to act as a schoolteacher to the King of Siam's children and wives. Anna also teaches the King some new words and phrases, notably the word 'etcetera', which he subsequently peppers across his speeches with gusto.
The King's wives and children are bemused by Anna's clothes and mannerisms that are so different from their own, but they quickly learn to love Anna, and she loves them in return.
When the King is accused of being a barbarian by foreigners, despite their many differences, Anna finds herself to be indignant and she and the King set out to rectify the situation.BWW Review: Singing the Praises of Orpheus' Production of SISTER ACT in Ottawa at the Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe March 10, 2019
I was invited to the opening night performance of Orpheus Theatre's new production of Sister Act at the Meridian Theatre @ Centrepointe. Sister Act is based on the 1992 movie of the same name, starring Whoopi Goldberg as the singing nun. Another story about a singing nun, you ask? Well this isn't your average nun…
The plotline is somewhat reminiscent of the award-winning 1959 film, Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. In Sister Act, Deloris Van Cartier (Jerusha Lewis) is an aspiring singer auditioning at her boyfriend's cocktail bar in Philadelphia. After she witnesses a mob type hit, she goes on the lam and finds reluctant sanctuary at the struggling Queen of Angels convent with the residing Mother Superior (Mary Ellen Vice). Mother Superior insists that if she is to stay in the convent, she must cast aside her "sinful" ways and abide by the same rules as the other nuns. The only thing that saves Deloris from total despair is her opportunity to help guide the convent's atrocious choir, to whom she is introduced as Sister Mary Clarence.BWW Review: THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA TRIPLE BILL at Ottawa's National Arts Centre - Southam Hall February 2, 2019
I was invited to the opening night performance of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, the hit Broadway show celebrating the life and music of Carole King.
The show is infused with many number one hits of the era, written by King (Elise Vannerson) and her husband, Gerry Goffin (Ben Biggers), including 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow', 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and 'The Locomotion'. In addition, King and Goffin had some intense competition through their friends and rivals, Cynthia Weil (Alison Whitehurst) and Barry Mann (Jacob Heimer). Weil and Mann's musical contributions include equally successful songs, such as 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling', which remains, to this day, the song with the most airplay on American radio.
King's biographical journey takes the audience from her humble beginnings as a smarty-pants, sheltered teenager from Brooklyn - whose mother wants her to teach music rather than write it - to a sensational musical hit making machine, together with Goffin. Despite their success, it wasn't all sunshine and roses and King's struggles echo those of many working parents trying to find a work-life balance. King longs for a suburban house and traditional family but her husband wants to experience the showbiz life and becomes less and less interested in family life (not to mention, monogamy). King, battling self-esteem issues, ultimately finds the courage to break out on her own. This liberation results in her moving to California and releasing the Grammy award winning album, Tapestry. The show ends on a high note, with King at her piano at Carnegie Hall, celebrating her well-deserved success.BWW Review: BED & BREAKFAST at the Great Canadian Theatre Company December 11, 2018
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a performance of the Great Canadian Theatre Company's (GCTC) production of Bed and Breakfast. I was unsure what to expect, as I knew it was a two-man play and I am often wary of these types of shows because so much rides on the actors' ability, with very little margin for error. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was, in fact, astounded at how successfully Mark Crawford and Paul Dunn pulled it off. But more of that later. First let me give you a little background of the story.
Published in 2015, Crawford's Bed and Breakfast explores what it is like for a same sex couple trying to make a life for themselves in a small town. It all begins with Brett (Crawford), an interior designer with his own TV show segment, and Drew (Dunn), a hotel concierge, looking to find a bigger place in Toronto. Featuring a plot many Torontonians (and Vancouverites) can relate to, Brett and Drew are continually disappointed as their real estate offers are outbid in the tight housing market. After another unsuccessful offer, Brett receives news that his Aunt Maggie has passed away unexpectedly and he has received an inheritance in the form of a beautiful old house that needs some work. Could this be the solution to Brett and Drew's housing troubles?BWW Review: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG - Orpheus Theatre Brings a Classic to Ottawa November 24, 2018
Orpheus Musical Theatre's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coincides with the 50th anniversary of the classic movie of the same name, starring Dick van Dyke. The movie itself was based upon a children's book authored by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.
Orpheus' starring role was given to the car, Chitty - a beautifully crafted stage prop unlike any I have ever seen in this calibre of production. Kudos to the props team - they really outdid themselves.
Caractacus Potts, played by Paul Melsness, was outstanding. He has a wonderful singing voice and stage presence and his charisma was apparent through the show. The children, however, were the real superstars. Sophie Pierce and Aleksander Rohozinski, playing the roles of Jemima and Jeremy Potts, respectively, have a natural talent for performing. Pierce, in particular, approached her role with gusto and both kids gave their roles 110%. Andrea Black, in the role of Truly Scrumptious, paled in comparison. She appeared to have difficulty reaching higher notes - with the notable exception of the 'Doll on a Music Box' number, where she gave a performance that completely enraptured the audience.BWW Review: BORDERLINE at Ottawa's National Arts Centre - Company Wang Ramirez Experiment with Dance Fusion and Gravity in a Soaring Production November 10, 2018
As we wait for the show to begin, a large metal cube, open on three sides, hangs suspended over the stage, gently turning. As the lights dim, the cube is moved to a corner of the stage closest to the audience. Two figures appear on stage and move as if they are running towards the cube, first slowly, then with increasing desperation. Each time they approach the cube, they are jerked back as if by an unseen force (which, in reality, comes from a rigging system attached to each dancer with a harness). In today's political climate, given the title of the production, as well as the fact that Company Wang Ramirez are from Europe, the imagery evokes the sense of escaping from some dark force to a sanctuary but being thwarted at every turn. Ultimately, a man clad in black appears and breaks one dancer free, while the other is banished into the darkness.BWW Review: Vespers – A Woven Tapestry of Sound and Movement by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa November 2, 2018
Prior to the performance, André Lewis, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's (RWB) Artistic Director and CEO, gave a talk to members of the audience, where he stated that artists are able to express themselves through new interpretations and the deconstruction of classic pieces of music. The RWB's Vespers is set to Claudio Monteverdi's liturgical composition of the same name, published in 1610. Vespers are the traditional evening prayers performed in many churches; however, thanks to James Kudelka's avant-garde choreography, the scenes that unfold in front of the audience are anything but traditional.BWW Review: NAC ORCHESTRA POPS SERIES PRESENTS RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN at National Arts Centre - Southam Hall October 26, 2018
For its first Pops Series performance of the 2018 / 2019 season, the NAC Orchestra is paying tribute to the famous composer / lyricist team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II by performing some of their most beloved songs in the newly renovated orchestra shell of the National Arts Centre.
Led by conductor Maestro Jack Everly, the NAC Orchestra was in fine form, providing music not only from Rodgers & Hammerstein's most popular musicals, but delivering some lessor known melodies, such as the overture to the 1961 film, Flower Drum Song.
Two choirs, the Calixa-Lavallee Ensemble and the Ewashko Singers, provided beautiful harmonies to complement the guest vocals.
The three featured vocalists, handpicked by Maestro Everly, were Laura Osnes, Ben Crawford and Ted Keegan. All three were simply spectacular, with the twice Tony-nominated Osnes channeling Julie Andrews in the opening number, 'The Sound of Music', and again in 'My Favorite Things'.BWW Review: Ottawa's SCHOOL OF ROCK Will Rock Your Socks Off at the National Arts Centre September 26, 2018
Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit Broadway show, School of Rock the Musical, is based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black. It tells the story of Dewey (Rob Colletti), a down and out rock n' roll guitarist, who has just been kicked out of his band. Under false pretences, Dewey gets a gig teaching at Horace Green, a snooty preparatory school headed by Rosalie (Lexie Dorsett Sharp). Dewey is unprepared (and unlicensed) for the job and has no interest in it apart from financial - that is, until he hears the kids' talent in music class. Inspired, he begins to give them an education in music. This is entirely self-serving, as Dewey still wants to compete in an upcoming Battle of the Bands and sees the children as his ticket there.BWW Review: THE LAST FIVE YEARS, an Orpheus Musical Theatre Production - Ottawa, Ontario September 24, 2018
As its name implies, The Last Five Years takes place over a five-year period. The cast is comprised of only two individuals, Cathy (Michelle Gendron) and Jamie (Louie Rossetti). Cathy and Jaime are a couple and the story takes us through their five-year relationship, from its inception to its bitter end. What makes this musical unusual is that the story is told from both perspectives, with Jaime narrating in chronological order and with Cathy starting at the end, working her way back to the beginning of the relationship.BWW Review: SYLVIA at Ottawa Little Theatre September 17, 2018
A.R. Gurney's Sylvia is a story about one man's relationship with his dog. The opening scene unfolds with Greg (Paul Williamson) at home with the newly adopted Sylvia, an excitable, fluffy pooch played by Emily Walsh. Greg has brought Sylvia, an apparent stray, home from the park unbeknownst to his wife, Kate (Amanda Jonz). Kate is not impressed, believing that Sylvia has replaced her in Greg's affections. Can Greg keep Sylvia and Kate happy or will one have to go? And which one will it be?BWW Review: THE VIRGIN TRIAL at The Great Canadian Theatre Company September 16, 2018
I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the premiere of The Great Canadian Theatre Company's production of Kate Hennig's The Virgin Trial, directed by Eric Coates. Although this production is the sequel to Hennig's The Last Wife, the play stands on its own so no prior knowledge is needed. The play is set in modern times, but the characters and events are from the Tudor era. English history buffs will particularly enjoy the story as it is partially based on factual events with some speculation thrown in, which makes for a fascinating crime drama.BWW Review: THE UNEXPECTED GUEST - A Classic Whodunit at the Ottawa Little Theatre July 21, 2018
The Unexpected Guest is based on a play written by Dame Agatha Christie, first staged in London in 1958. The show begins on a foggy night, when Michael Starkwedder (Jesse Lalonde) comes to a home looking for shelter and finds the body of Richard Warwick crumpled over his wheelchair with Laura Warwick (Dylan Barnabe), Richard's wife, holding a gun. When Laura admits to the murder, Starkwedder helps the pretty widow concoct a scheme to save her from the hangman's noose. But, of course, all may not be as it seems in a Christie play. Is Laura telling the truth or is she covering up for someone? We are soon introduced to other members of the Warwick household, each of whom had a possible motive to send the despicable Richard Warwick to an early grave.BWW Review: MAMMA MIA! at the Centrepointe Theatre - Ottawa, Ontario June 3, 2018
Orpheus Musical Theatre's production of the smash Broadway hit, Mamma Mia, features over twenty ABBA songs incorporated into the storyline. The premise: a young girl, Sophie (Meaghan Chapin) has three possible fathers, Sam (Geoff Beck), Bill (Michael Schilder) and Harry (Rejean Dinelle-Mayer). Sophie, believing she will know her father the moment she sees him, invites them to her wedding so that she can have her father walk her down the aisle. When they all show up, Sophie doesn't know which one is actually her father, her mother, Donna (Nicole Milne), is shocked to get a blast from the past, and hilarity ensues.BWW Review: LOVE AND OTHER THINGS at Ottawa's National Arts Centre - Rossy Pavillon May 29, 2018
From the brief synopsis I read, I knew that this performance would be unlike anything I had ever seen before. This was reinforced by the show's tag line, "Love and Other Things: a drama for flower, clay and bone". Well, I was right.